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By Japanese custom, gifts of all kinds are presented in some kind of cover, either a furoshiki (see above: S-5-9-7) or a paper envelope. This paper envelope is decorated with symbolic objects to suit the occasion. The shugi-bukuro is an envelope for gifts of money given at weddings, births or other festive occasions. It is decorated with cords of tightly-twisted paper (mizuhiki) tied in an intricate bow. Cords used on happy occasions are either red and white, gold and silver or red and gold. The sender writes a brief greeting above the cord and his name below it.
At funerals, a condolence offering is given in a similar envelope called a koden-bukuro.
On this occasion the cords are black and white, yellow and white or black and silver.
When a couple is betrothed, a formal set of items is exchanged by their families. This set, yuino yohin, consists of a list of betrothal presents, a folding fan, a sum of money for a silk kimono, a receipt for this money and lists of the names of the families and relatives. Attached to yuino yohin is a long strip of noshi (dried meat of the awabi or abalone). Wrapped in red and white paper, this felicitous symbol is often attached to congratulatory gifts and shugi-bukuro. In modern times, a strip of paper is invariably substituted for the dried abalone.
Talismans (ofuda) are believed to keep away misfortune and bring good luck. After being blessed and invested with divine power, they are sold at Buddhist temples or Shinto shrines. Items S-13-2-l, 2, 7 & 8 are talismans which protect the owner against various misfortunes; that issued by the Grand Shrine of Ise offers divine protection throughout the coming year. Talismans are attached to the ceiling, pillars or other appropriate part of the house; in the case of S-13-2-7, for example, near the fireplace.
Amulets (omamori) have a similar purpose to ofuda but they are smaller, enclosed in a brocade holder, and constantly carried around. Most shrines and temples sell these attractive amulets for a small sum. Among the most popular amulets are those guarding against traffic accidents or ensuring success in school examinations.
The omikuji (S-13-2-9), a written oracle, can also be obtained at shrines and temples. The buyer draws a numbered stick which is exchanged for an oracle bearing the same number. Many of these slips of paper are seen tied to trees and fences in the vicinity of shrines and temples – these are oracles which are either bad (kyo) or very bad (daikyo). By leaving the oracle behind, the recipient hopes to escape the evil influence.
Almanacs (gohoreki) are sold at the end of the year as a guide to the year to come. They are based upon traditional Chinese methods of divination and include astrological predictions, the good or bad directions and dates for each month and practical information such as tide tables and dates of major events throughout the country.
New year is the greatest festival in the Japanese calendar. At this time a very large number of nengahagaki (greeting cards) are exchanged between families, friends and business associates. The card is a standard postcard sent without an envelope. On the front is some attractive design – often relating to the animal zodiac symbol of the coming year – and a handwritten message. Every year since 1949, the Japanese government has run a lottery based on these cards; every special nengahagaki bought at a Japanese Post Office bears a number and a draw is held in January for a large number of prizes, including sets of special issue postage stamps.
Tobacco was introduced to Japan in the 16th century, probably by the Portuguese. The tobacco plant was first grown on Tanegashima, an island south of Kyushu, and later in the Nagasaki area. In the first decade of the 17th century, the government tried to prohibit smoking but the habit continued to spread and the pipe (kiseru) and tobacco container, attached to the belt by a toggle (netsuke), became a common accessory. The pipe consists of three parts, the metal gankubi ("goose's head") bowl, the bamboo stem and the mouthpiece (suikuchi). The bowl holds a very small amount of tobacco – enough for just three or four puffs of the pipe. Nowadays the kiseru is rarely used other than by old people in isolated communities. The majority of Japanese smokers choose cigarettes or a Western-style pipe. Only one domestic brand of shredded tobacco – "Kikyo" distributed by the Japan Tobacco Monopoly – is now available.
The rice cooker is rivalled only by the washing machine as the greatest labour saving device in the Japanese home. Before the advent of the rice cooker in the 1950's almost all Japanese rice was cooked in an iron pot over the fire. It was a long job requiring the housewife's constant attention. Nowadays, the electric rice cooker carries out the boiling, simmering and steaming of the rice automatically. It can also keep cooked rice warm for several hours or re-heat it from cold; enough rice for several meals can be prepared at one time. Japanese rice cookers are now found not only all over Japan but also in every other part of the world where rice is a staple food.
In 1969, a total of 182 Iotteries were organised in Japan. Sales of ¥100 tickets amounted to ¥11,534 million. Major lotteries are organised by local governments through the Dai-lchi Kangyo Bank and for the occasion of Expo '70 funds were raised for local government and city government pavilions through a special series of 13 Iotteries, of which Item 2 was the 7th in the series; 47 Prefectures and 9 major cities took part. Item 3 is a ticket for a regular nationwide local government lottery. Participation in these lotteries has grown year by year – sales of tickets almost doubled between 1965 and 1969 – and tickets sell out within the first few days of sale. The top prize is ¥10 million.
The contents of this site are excerpted from THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF TIME CAPSULE EXPO'70(March 1975). Please note that company and organization names may differ from those of the current ones.
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